Iraq’s ancient splits widen: why the Kurds voted to secede

By Kenneth R. Rosen—New Statesman—October 6, 2017—

The referendum on 25 September was met with pockets of violence.

In 1918, British Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Noel ascended the mountain region of what is today northern Iraq. Through a thicket of fine junipers he followed a Kurdish elder named Tappu Agha. When the travellers reached the winter home of Tappu, they sat for a meal and the elder, seated among his tribe, unspooled a tale about his people.

Many years before, Tappu’s ancestor emigrated with several families to settle the land where Tappu now made his winter quarters, an area then occupied by a nomadic group of Turks. Invitations to grand repasts were traded between the two tribes, and on the day that the Kurds had planned to host the Turks in kind, they sent a young man to tell the Turks that the meal was ready.